China accuses West of encouraging ‘arms race’
Beijing states that Australia, the US and UK are building a military bloc in Oceania without consulting with the region’s players
In response to Australia’s criticism of its security pact with the Solomon Islands, China has accused Canberra and its partners of encouraging an “arms race” in the South Pacific region.
“Australia and the United States of America and Britain form a military bloc within the region. They encourage an arms race and do not discuss relevant issues with Oceania.” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a media briefing on Wednesday.
Australian authorities are worried about the recent security agreement signed between Beijing and Pacific nations. Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed that a Chinese military base on the Solomons would constitute a “Red line” for Canberra.
The Solomon Islands, a tiny archipelago, is approximately 2,000 km (1,242 mi) north of Australia.
Zhao refuted the reports of his country’s alleged plans to establish a new military foothold, calling them “Fake news.”
He underlined that signing agreements about security cooperation is a “The sacred rights of two sovereign states” and is fully in line with international practice. He also stressed that China’s pact with the Solomon Islands is open, transparent and does not target “All third parties.”
Therefore, the spokesman added, Australia should change its “opaque” approach which, as he claimed, is viewed as very concerning by the countries in the region.
Zhao’s statement follows last week’s remarks by the Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who said that the West has “You don’t have to worry” about his country’s agreement with China and stressed that his nation feels “insulted” over the “Continued lack of trust” demonstrated by Australia.
Sogavare also claimed that the Solomon Islands perceive a threat to their interests and have to deal with the risk of “Military intervention” posed by Western countries.
“Invasion is imminent.” he warned. “Now, that is serious.”
The nation’s prime minister previously criticized Australia for being hypocritical when it came to the Solomons’ pact with China. He argued that Canberra had not consulted with its other partners last year when it unveiled the AUKUS deal – a security pact involving Australia, the UK and US – which paves the way for Canberra to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.